Philanthropic program provides pinball therapy

By TIM STOVER/Montana State News

Pinball machines have allowed a different kind of recreation for those who spend their time in hospitals around the country.

Project Pinball started in 2011 and originated with the intent to provide “… recreational relief to patients, family members, and hospital staff,” according to the organization website.

According to Project Pinball they “…provide all equipment, parts, supplies, and regular maintenance at no cost to the hospital.”

The company has provided “… 25 pinball machines to 23 different hospitals” across the country. Testimonials on Project Pinball’s website attest to the fact that people love what they are doing.

Joe Dacy, a parent of a child who benefited from Project Pinball at Advocate Children’s Hospital said in a testimonial, “One of those challenges was getting him out of bed away from the video games, his tablet, and the confinement of his hospital room.”

It’s just about being a little more active and a little more mobile. Instead of kids being stuck in their beds and playing video games. Pinball machines allow them to interact in person with kids who are in similar situations.

According to Plane Timming, “A new machine with a warranty will run about $4,500-$6,000.” While older machines are about “$200-500” and “… $500-$2000 for a reliable used machine.”

These machines are not exactly cheap, neither are they light. According to NY Pinball, they can weigh between 250-300 pounds.

Still some people choose to donate and use the bigger, spendier machines. Pinball machines also come almost fully self-sufficient. Video game consoles, an alternative to pinball machines, require games, controllers, and sometimes even internet connections.

Not only do people love pinball machines for their entertainment value. Project Pinball is providing constant service and never leave donations unattended.

One Certified Child Life Specialist at The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Stacie Margaritis wrote a letter to Project Pinball thanking them saying “We cannot thank you enough for wanting to help in rebuilding our Spiderman Pinball machine …”

Andrei Massenkoff, child life teacher at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, said in a letter “Pinball is exceptionally interactive, fun, and sensory experience … I support the work of Project Pinball because the organization takes simplicity, excitement, and most of all, fun …”

The concept of fun permeates the letters and testimonials. Project Pinball appears to provide an excellent service and people love what they are doing, even if the pinball machines are large and expensive at their entry point.

edited by Bay Stephens

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